Photo manipulation by RKNTV Source: Flickr via creative commons

We all love dogs. I mean, who doesn’t? Not a lot, I tell you, but there ARE some out there. They’re not for everyone either despite being the number one pet of choice for most people. Kids can be one of them. There are just some breeds that do NOT mesh well with kids for a multitude of reasons, so think wisely on which breed to get or already own when children now become part of the household equation.

According to several statistics, kids have been the victims of at least an estimated 4.7 million dog bites a year – some from their beloved family pet, and some from out there in public, and very rarely do they end up in fatalities. Naturally, some ardent dog lovers will blame the kids for stressing out the family dog, but that’s not always the case, especially when a dog attacks a random child outdoors.

So what do you do if your child and dog don’t get along?

The first thing you should do is observe how the two react to each other: children ages 3 to 7 are mostly bundles of energy that love poking, crawling, and handling things out of curiosity. They do that to get a reaction from anything, everybody, and including themselves. If the child is the cause of the dog’s stress, gently – but firmly – discipline the child. While it’s true “kids will be kids”; kids should also learn discipline, responsibility, and respect. Sanctioned cruelty is not how a child should be raised just because they don’t know any better, they should LEARN how to be better growing up. If the child still hasn’t learned that by 10 years of age, somebody probably failed as a parent because it’s becoming an ingrained habit.

If it’s the dog that’s being aggressive to a child for no reason despite your observations between the two and the child does NOTHING to the dog, then some things need to be done:

  1. never leave the child alone with the dog no matter how much you trust the dog
  2. don’t punish the dog, doing so may make things worse the moment your back is turned
  3. send them with you to obedience school
  4. if obedience school doesn’t take, then other alternatives must be explored

One of those alternatives is to seek professional help, talking to an animal behaviorist is one of them. They will help you look into problems like resource guarding, handling issues, separation anxiety, and aggression toward people or other animals that your dog may have. They may recommend some things to help fix that, but they may also recommend something you might not like if the problem can’t be fixed – or gets worse.

Here’s what happens if it gets worse:

  1. you might have to give up that pet
  2. if the pet has become too aggressive to even help, euthanasia may be the only option

That last bit is the extreme last resort they’ll suggest with no other options, and there are instances where it can’t be avoided. This is the one option that’s given when you’ve got news reports about dog bite fatalities occurring. I know it’s not something one wants to hear, but always remember that your beloved pet is still a predator – no amount of dressing that pet up as baby Yoda just because they’re cute doesn’t change that fact.

Just in case your dog DOES bite your child, I’ve written a more in-depth article that can be found by clicking here.

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